Back to School Driving Tips

 

Back to schoo

It’s already August, meaning school is around the corner. Your mornings are about to get chaotic and frantic trying to get everyone out the door on time. Though you may be tempted to drive more aggressively than normal, trying to beat the clock is not worth the cost of a life.

The National Safety Council cites that most incidents involving kids happen in close proximity to schools. As a driver, you have the power to help avoid these incidents through defensive driving. Here are some safe driving tips:

Pedestrians:

There will be many kids and their parents walking and running on the sidewalks and even in the street. The best thing to do as a driver is to anticipate sudden behavior. Kids can be unpredictable and they are not always aware of their surroundings. Below are some other safe driving tips for pedestrians:

  • Don’t block a crosswalk or intersection when waiting for a red light or making a left hand turn.
  • In a school zone where the caution lights are flashing, you are to obey the speed limit and yield to pedestrians and bicyclists in the crosswalks.
  • Don’t pass a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians
  • You must always stop for a crossing guard or school patrol officer who is holding a stop sign.
  • Always use caution and be on the look-out for children

Bicyclists:

Kids and bikes together can be a driver’s nightmare. Here are some additional safe driving tips to help you navigate around young cyclists:

  • Be careful and watchful for bicyclists near schools, parks, and residential areas.
  • When making a left-hand turn, yield to a bicyclist coming from the opposite direction before making your turn. This situation is where the most bike and vehicle incidents and collisions occur.
  • When making a right-hand turn, check your mirrors for bicyclists. If a bicyclist is present, leave at least feet between your car and the bicyclist. Seek to make eye contact and allow the bike to pass you before you turn.
  • Check your side mirrors before opening your car door and always use your turn signals.

School Busses:

It is also inevitable that you’ll also run into a few school buses along the way. Buses are slow and nobody wants to be stuck behind them. It is important to note, however, that according to the National Safety Council states that kids are more likely to die in school bus-related incidents at drop-off and pick-up sites than anywhere else. It is, then, even more, important to drive safely and cautiously around busses. Below are some safe driving tips around school buses:

  • When coming to a stop behind a stopped school bus, stay at least 10 feet away so children exiting the bus can do so safely.
  • It is illegal in every state to pass a school bus while its yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended.
  • Even after the bus turns off its lights and its stop arm is no longer extended, you should not pass it as there will be kids around and some may want to cross the road.

Other drivers:

In the craziness of school, drop-offs, you can count on other drivers to be just as harried as you are. You can’t control how other people drive, but you can control how you drive. Instead of tailgating and blaring the horn, here are some tips to help you safely deal with other drivers:

  • Leave a safe following distance. You never know when or if they’ll need to suddenly stop. A safe following distance will help you avoid you rear-ending them.
  • Don’t pass a stopped car. The car can be stopped to drop off children or it can be stopped to let kids cross the street. Kids are notorious for meandering in and around parked cars.
  • Avoid trying to squeeze by cars to make a right-hand turn. This maneuver may cause you to get within a few feet of kids on the sidewalk who can jump into the street suddenly for multiple reasons.
  • Don’t honk. All the other drivers are likely to be stressed out too. The alarming sound of a car horn can rattle other drivers, even more, increasing their chances of making poor driving decisions.

Along with other frantic drivers, there may be some inexperienced teen drivers on the road taking siblings to school. You can be a good example for these new drivers by being patient and practicing safe driving.

Let this school year be safe for everyone. It starts with your defensive driving, anticipation, and patience. If you think your safe driving skills aren’t up to snuff, we offer adult driving refresher courses to help your confidence behind the wheel.

How to Choose a Safe and Reliable Vehicle for Your Teen Driver

teen drivers and cars

Kids grow up watching movies and television shows that are filled with over-the-top car races and chasing scenes that involve sleek and sexy vehicles, but parents watch a different “show.” They watch their babies grow into teenagers who have learned to legally drive and without question this comes with happiness that is laced with a tinge of fear.

Once your teen can drive, you want them to say “yes, mom and dad, your incredibly safe and airbag filled minivan IS cool, I wouldn’t want to drive anything else, ” but we all know that is not the case. Teenagers are knee deep in the time of life when being “cool” is their major concern. Not to worry, there are plenty of vehicles out there that have been designed to handle wear and tear, are affordable, and most of all safe.

Here are a few things to consider when the day comes that you buy a vehicle for your teen driver:

  • Bigger = Safer – Heavier vehicles are safer and will always win in a time of  a collision. SUVs are dependable and a wise choice for your teen driver
  • Avoid high horsepower – Your teen is most likely to think that the beefier the engine the better, but the power that comes with these vehicles should be avoided for new drivers. Plain and simple – they just don’t have the experience yet to understand how horsepower effects a vehicle and are likely to not know how to safely operate them
  • Look for electronic stability – This technology has been mandatory in vehicles since 2012. It automatically helps the driver maintain stability while navigating sharp turns/curves or rain and snow covered roads. There is proof that this technology has cut single-vehicle fatal crashes nearly in half. This is a MUST feature

The fatal rate for teenagers is three times higher than all other drivers, but there is good news. Within the past 10 years, the safety requirements for vehicles have improved immensely. The auto industry has been required to improve the safety aspects of all their vehicles.  Any parent will worry no matter what, but there are reliable and safe vehicles to choose from that can help put your mind at ease.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has compiled a list of vehicles, which they have categorized into “good choices” and “best choices.” This shows the best large cars, midsize cars, small SUVs, midsize SUVs, large SUVs, minivans, and pickups in both the “good choices” and “best choices” categories, all of which start under $20, 000.

However, because nearly 85 percent of parents purchase used vehicles for their teen driver they will most likely have to compromise on some of the criteria, which puts most affordable vehicles in the “good choices” category. But not to worry… these vehicles are just as they say – “good” choices.

Make sure your teens start their driving journey with proper training and plenty of experience. Giving them the necessary skills to know how to navigate in the world of driving is the only way to truly help them stay safe on the road.

Get more information at goswerve.com

5 Reasons Your Teen Needs Driving Training

The 5 Reasons Your Teen Needs Driving Training

Teen Driving Courses

Protect your teen on the road this summer.

School is out. Summer is in, and your teen needs driving training courses more than ever before. Unfortunately, there is something about this season that makes it one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. While a lot of strides have been made in driver safety over the years, motor vehicle crashes still remain the number 1 cause of death for drivers between the ages of 15 and 19. In fact, teens have the highest crash rate of any age demographic in the U.S.
And since more teens are out on the road during the summer months than in any other season, it’s critical to ensure that they have the education and experience to stay safe out on the roads.
And that means getting them behind the wheel next to an experienced driver in a structured education program.
Need more convincing? Here are 5 important reasons to enroll your teen in driver’s education this summer.

Here are 5 important reasons to enroll your teen in driver’s education this summer.

1. The 100 Deadliest Days of Driving

The Span of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is considered the 100 Deadliest Days of Driving because this is when teen crash fatalities start to go way up.
Teens are already a higher risk on the road than more experienced drivers, but there is something about this time that seems to increase the risk even further. It could be that:
Summer is a time for recreational driving. Teens are driving for fun, not just to get from point A to point B.
Teens tend to drive with other teens in the car more often, which increases the risk of crashes.
Clear conditions (and other teens in the car) may tempt teens to speed.
Longer days means teens stay out longer, and night driving leads to higher risks.
There are simply more drivers out on the road when the weather is clear and inviting
These and many other factors add to the importance of making sure your teens are educated and experienced before they join the summer rush.

2. Crashes Affect More than Just Teen Drivers

According to an analysis of the government’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), in 2013, an average of 220 teen drivers and passengers died in traffic crashes in every summer month.
But it’s not just the people in the car or the teen behind the wheel who are injured or killed in these crashes. In fact, nearly two-thirds of the people injured in these situations are not the teenage drivers. This study revealed that:

  • 66% of people killed and 67% of people injured in crashes are not the teen drivers
  • 50% of those injured were in another vehicle
  • 17% of those injured were the teen driver’s car
  • 2% of those injured were pedestrians
  • 30% of those killed were in another car
  • 27% of those killed were passengers in the teen’s vehicle
  • 10% of those killed were pedestrians

3. Delayed Licensing Means Higher Risks

Some teens just put off getting a license for a variety of reasons. Some may not have a car. Others may not think they can afford gas prices. And, unfortunately, some don’t want to take a driver’s education course. This means that, once they turn 18, they can get a license without getting the same education and experience as those who completed their coursework.
What this means in real terms is that more and more people are getting on the road without any formal training. In fact, the only real example they have at that point is what they’ve seen friends and family do (and all of the bad habits they’ve picked up over the years).
Driver’s education courses provide experience under less risky conditions and a safety-focused education.
How much does this really help?

Research shows that states with a comprehensive  driver licensing program have a 38% decrease in fatal crashes and a 40% decrease in injurious crashes that involve 16 year-olds.

4. Dealing with Distractions

It’s bad enough when adults get distracted while driving, but since teens have less experience behind the wheel and dealing with multiple things happening at once, the situation becomes even worse.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety did some research and was able to create a list of the most common distractions that led a teenage driver to crash.

  • 15% were interacting with one or more passengers
  • 12% were using their cell phones
  • 10% were looking at something else in the vehicle
  • 9% were looking at something else outside the vehicle
  • 8% were singing or grooving to music
  • 6% were grooming
  • 6% were reaching for something in the car

 

5. Teen Driver’s Education Significantly Reduces Crashes and Even Tickets

Safety-focused education can teach teens about the dangers of distracted driving and make sure they understand how real this problem is.There was a time when studies claimed that driver’s training programs didn’t actually reduce crashes (leading to many states cutting the programs from their schools), but more modern research has shown just the opposite.
This study, performed by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln followed 150, 000 teen drivers for 8 years. What the found was that drivers who had not completed driver’s education were 75% more likely to get a ticket and 24% more likely to be involved in a fatal or injury accident.

Getting Enough Education

The Swerve Teen Driving Training:

  • 30 hours in classroom
  • 6 hours behind the wheel
  • 1 hour (minimum) and up to 6 hours behind the wheel observation
  • Swerve Driving Schools is also a Washington State testing center that offers Knowledge Testing and Road Testing.

Find a location where you can get more information here: http://goswerve.com/programs/new-driver-training/

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Distracted Driving Awareness

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and GoSwerve wants your help in fighting the rampant problem of distracted driving. If we don’t act, it will only get worse.

Unfortunately, the technology has made it easier to drive distracted. From smartphones to iPods; and Bluetooth to GPS, driving is more dangerous than ever– causing hundreds of deaths each year. Join us in cracking down on this dangerous & deadly problem.

Here are a few ways you can become less distracted while driving.
  • Avoid using hands-free features in your vehicle. Studies have shown drivers are still distracted and can miss 50 percent of surroundings (other cars, stop signs, turn signals, brake lights) when using any hands free feature in your vehicle.
  • Do not voice text. It may seem safer to voice text than text with your hands, but it is not true, you are still distracted. Remember, technology in a vehicle is always distracting, even if you feel comfortable.
    Companies spend more than $59 million each year on collisions in company vehicles due to distracted driving. Do not become distracted in a work vehicle, the results of damaging work property could affect your work situation and your family negatively.
  • There are many apps you can download to disallow texting and other phone activity while in the car. This can serve as a reminder when the habit to text or post online comes to mind.
  • Educate yourself or your teen about the risks of distracted driving. Swerve Driving School has researched based teaching methods and instruction which has proven successful having taught thousands of students.

Be part of the solution and talk to Swerve Driving School about becoming a franchise in your state! Contact us to get more information today. 

What Happens When Teens Delay Getting a Driver’s License?

Teen Driving

 

Pop quiz: who is a riskier driver, a 16- or 17-year-old who just received their license or someone between the ages of 18 and 21 who just received their license?

In a totally unexpected and counterintuitive twist, it turns out that the answer is that people who wait until they are older to get their license are more likely to receive traffic citations and be involved in a fatal wreck.

Why bring this sort of question up now? Because statistics are showing that in some places around the country, more and more teens are choosing to wait to get their license.

So the question has to be asked, why are they waiting so long? And while we’re at it, let’s also ask why it is that older beginners might be at greater risk.

 

Factors in Putting Off the Driver’s License

There was a time when receiving your driver’s license was a sign of real freedom. You could go where you wanted on your own. You could… be asked to run errands for your parents. But at least you were doing it on your own.

Whatever else it may have meant, it was proof that you were becoming an adult. So why are more and more teens waiting to get their licenses?

In a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the most common reasons why young people wait to get licensed are:

  • Did not have a car (44%)
  • Could get around without driving (39%)
  • Gas was too expensive (36%)
  • Driving was too expensive (36%)
  • Just didn’t get around to it (35%)
  • Could do what I wanted without driving (32%)
  • Was nervous about driving (30%)
  • Just not very interested in driving (29%)
  • Had to complete driver education course first (28%)
  • Getting a license was too expensive (26%)

The financial concerns surrounding driving classes and owning and maintaining a car are the most common reasons why young people are procrastinating their license, but as we look closer, we’ll see that a number of these other reasons have just as much impact.

For some teens, it’s just easier to put it off until they don’t have to pay for driving classes. For others, they just don’t see the need, since they can get where they need to go with public transportation or through friends who are licensed.

 

So What’s the Big Deal?

So why does it matter? Is it really such a big deal if drivers wait until they’re a little older before seeking a license and hitting the road?

Statistics seem to suggest that it is, actually, a pretty big deal, and those who wait usually end up becoming worse drivers.

Consider:

  • Drivers who got their licenses at age 18 received, on average, 3x as many citations as people who began driving at 16.
  • Drivers over 18 were more likely to fail their driving tests. 24% of such drivers failed their first test.
  • Drivers who never took classes were 24% more likely to be involved in a fatal wreck.

Taken together, these statistics seem to suggest that getting educated and getting the right kind of experiences earlier in life may help to reduce the risks to drivers on the road.

What Factors Contribute to This Situation?

As the statistics above suggest, money has a large influence on when a driver might finally attempt to acquire a license. This is because 16- and 17-year-olds are required to take driving lessons before they can take their driver’s tests. Some people just don’t the money (or the inclination to spend the money) for the classes.

New drivers who are already 18 are not required to go through that kind of structured education, and as such they can save the cost of the classes. However, they also don’t have the same kind of restrictions that younger drivers have. There is no limit on how late they can drive, or how many passengers they can have in the vehicle. So, without any formal lessons and help from experienced teachers, they’re getting behind the wheel in situations that are known to be extra risky.

In the end, it can’t be said enough: education matters.

There’s more to driving than just “winging it.” And there’s more to driving than just passing the test and getting licensed. Staying safe on the road means really knowing how to react in any given situation, and that kind of mental foundation only comes from a good education.

 

Resources:

The statistics cited throughout this post can be found in this article on the Seattle Times: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/young-drivers-wait-to-get-licenses-with-dangerous-consequences/

How to Prepare your Car for Winter Driving

Prepare your car for winter driving

How to Prepare Your Car for Winter Driving

 Imagine you and your family driving into town for a fun weekend adventure. It’s been snowing, with the temperatures often falling below zero. You come around a corner and encounter slush that jerks your car to the right, popping your tire and breaking your axel. This all could have been prevented with a pre-winter checkup and a little more preparation.

Snow, wind, ice, and slush are a few winter obstacles that can turn our exciting holiday adventures into an accident waiting to happen. Winter driving elements place strain on the vehicle that isn’t usually present, so we can be in real trouble if our cars are not winter-ready. Here are just a few ideas of how you can be prepared for the cold, keeping your car on the road and yourself and family safe.

Check your battery

Car batteries don’t do well in cold temperatures. Even if your battery has worked well during the summer, it is a good idea to get it tested. Even with a good battery, purchase some jumper cables; they may come in handy for you and others during the cold winter months.

Schedule a Car Inspection

A car checkup, by a licensed professional, can solve problems before they happen. A checkup will inform you if your brakes, radiator, filters and other systems need to be repaired or replaced. This can ensure that your internal systems will not be a problem due to the cold.

Keep Fluid Levels Full

Keep your gas tank at least half-full to prevent the gas lines from freezing. Ensure the antifreeze, brake fluid and oil levels are correct.

Park in a Garage of Under a Cover

Parking in a garage or under a cover will protect your car from the damages snow can have on your car. It can assist in the life of windshield wipers, door handles, and mirrors. It will also keep lines from freezing and breaking. Check with your mechanic.

Get more information about teen and adult driving courses. 

Tips for Successful Proactive Driving

Driving Tips

Driving can be dangerous, especially if a driver is not prepared for precarious situations. Too many drivers in the United States are not prepared to drive proactively. Proactive driving is preparing for anything that can be encountered on the road, including collisions, poor weather and bad drivers.  Proactive drivers can save lives and thousands of dollars in insurance premiums. Here are just four ways a driver can learn to be a proactive driver.

1. Plan for the unexpected- Storms, detours and other road hazards can cause you to be late for meetings, sporting events and other activities.  Being late causes you to speed to make up for lost time.  Plan for at least 10-15 minutes of delays when you are driving so you can follow all traffic laws, keeping you and others safe.

2. Don’t wait for others to do what they are supposed to do- If you have been out on the roads you know not everyone does what they are supposed to do. Some are speeding, some don’t look for others as they pass and some are distracted by texting or other non-driving activities. When driving, do what you should do and be prepared to react to drivers who do not care for your well-being.

3. Take a driver’s education course- Learning traffic laws, good driving techniques and reaction skills can be a lifesaver for thousands of people each year. Be sure to research good driver’s ed. courses in your area– learning from law enforcement can be a great learning opportunity.
4. Be focused on driving- 
Do not text, change the radio station, change music on your iPod or any other activity that would take your attention off the road. Ten percent of all car accidents happen when drivers are distracted, don’t be part of the 10 percent.

Just remember,  driving is a privilege and people are counting on you to drive safely. Learning proactive driving skills can keep you safe on the roads and get you to your destination safely.

Get more information on adult driving and teen driving courses.